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Dig Liver Dis. 2002 Jun;34(6):419-23.

Long-term maintenance treatment in ulcerative colitis: a 10-year follow-up.

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  • 1Gastrointestinal Unit, Pisa Hospital, Italy.



With the extensive use of mesalamine, the natural history of ulcerative colitis is probably changed.


To evaluate the relapse rate and the duration of remission in patients with ulcerative colitis on maintenance treatment with mesalamine.


Enrolled in the study were 95 patients divided into 4 groups according to macroscopic location of the disease and treated with the same therapy starting from the date of enrolment. Patients in all 4 groups were followed-up until relapse occurred. The disease activity was evaluated by the Clinical Activity Index and Endoscopic Index. Patients suitable for recruitment showed a Clinical Activity Index and Endoscopic Index lower than 6 and 4, respectively. The patients with ulcerative pancolitis or left-sided colitis were treated with 1.6 g/day while the cases with proctosigmoiditis or proctitis were treated with 5-acetylsalicylic acid enemas 4 g/day Each patient was evaluated with clinical and endoscopic assessment at a 6-month interval. Relapse was defined as an increase in Clinical Activity Index and Endoscopic Index, of more than 6 and 4, respectively.


Five patients dropped-out. All enrolled patients showed a clinical and/or endoscopic relapse within 10 years, the majority 2 or 3 years after diagnosis: pancolitis and left-sided colitis within 2-3 years and patients with distal colitis within 9-10 years.


A relapse was observed in most cases within 3 years, and in all recruited patients within a space of ten years. The extent of the disease in the colon is an important prognostic factor, as patients with distal colitis showed a lesser tendency to relapse.

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